A View to a Skill

Ever discovered, months into knowing someone, that they have an incredible and oddly-specific interest? Ever wished you were that elusive and impressive person, but struggled to know where to start? This is the place for you!

As children, we’re expected to pick up new interests all the time – but those opportunities can feel more and more elusive as we get older. Time becomes scarcer, we lose that blind courage for trying new things and the array of possible interests can become paralysing.

To help you overcome this a few of those oh-so-impressive women have shared their interests and tips for you could get started. Diving into one (or a few) would make the perfect summer project – or take these as inspiration and find a hobby all of your own.

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Hula Hooping 101

By Elle Rose

What is it?

Hula hooping involves the use of a circle and the body to do tricks – such as waist hooping, zirkles, isolations, iso-pops, throws, cyclones, mandalas and so much more. I am a self-taught hula hooper and absolutely love it – in fact, I’m now sharing the love through teaching and performing. Benefits of hula hooping include happiness, coordination, creativity, fun, balance, strength and confidence.

What do I need?

When beginning hula hooping it’s best to acquire a larger hula hoop, 80cm – 100cm in diameter, in a colour that you like. You can buy them online from Threeworlds, Moodhoops, Hula Hoops Australia or other sites for $30 – $60.

How do I get involved?

I actually run classes here at ANU – which, if I do say myself, would be a great place to start! The class is fun, easy and designed for people of all levels. This semester they took place every Wednesday afternoon in the Dojo room and cost $15 per class. Follow me on Facebook @ElleRoseCircus to find out about class information for next year. If you’d prefer to learn in the comfort of your own home or backyard, check out YouTube for video tutorials. Two good ones to start with are Hoopsmiles’ ‘How to Hula Hoop Rap Song’ and Deanne Love’s ‘How to Hula Hoop for Total Beginners’.

Who could inspire me?

My favourite hula hooping YouTubers are Deanne Love, Babz Robinson and Hoopsmiles. They are happy and energetic with great moves and informative tutorials. You can also check out hula hoop journeys on YouTube for inspiration.

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Crochet 101

By Marnie van Loon

What is it?

Crocheting is the process of tying knots in wool to form squares – it is similar to knitting but uses a hook instead of needles. I initially picked up crochet when I was 10, after my grandma told me that she had always wanted to but had never learnt how. My neighbour taught me how to make squares and I started going to a sewing/knitting/crochet class after school. Nowadays, whenever I’m stressed or when I want to keep my hands busy while binge watching a TV show or listening to an audio book, I’ve taken to making giant multi-colour crochet squares that essentially become blankets. This skill comes very useful in the Canberra winter (and, as an added bonus, it’s made my room a little more rainbow- and pride-filled).

Crochet is a great hobby because it’s easy to learn, very mindful and super productive – it literally produces a thing. So, it’s a relatively guilt-free form of procrastination … although maybe that’s not a good thing?

What do I need?

You really just need wool and a crochet needle. You can buy both of these things at Spotlight, Big W or some two-dollar shops. You may also want a pattern book – but these days there are so many free tutorials and patterns on YouTube or for sale online that it’s not as necessary.

How do I get involved?

Some great places to start are: crochetaustralia.com.au, which contains a great beginners guide; thespruce.com, which provides another good beginner’s guide with easy-to-follow pictures; and @happyberrycrochet on YouTube, who shares very clear tutorials.

Canberra also has plenty of groups you could get involved with if you want to make crochet a social activity! Handmade Canberra holds crochet workshops, SWEATS ANU holds a range of events and has plenty of crafty members, and 5000 poppies hold pop-up workshops which are advertised on their (brilliant) website. It’s also a fun thing to learn from or with friends, so ask around – you never what exciting skills people might be hiding!

Who could inspire me?

Have a look at @crochetspecs on Instagram, who documents amazing 3D projects such as a Frida Kahlo doll; @kimskreativeands on Instagram and Etsy, who makes lots of great crochet wearables including a mermaid tail blanket; and Yolanda Oliver’s page on ravelry.com, where she sells amazing dragon-scale fingerless gloves (which I am in love with).

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Photography 101

By Chanél Irvine

What is it?

Photography is an increasingly accessible hobby, although it can be far more meaningful than just a way to pass the time or gain ‘bulk likes’ on Instagram. Photography allows you to capture special and often seemingly insignificant moments and observations in a lasting format, to be revisited and marvelled at whenever you most need to. I have been taking photos since I was in primary school, where I tried to capture the naïve silliness of morning tea and lunch breaks with my friends. Photography has become far more than a hobby for me; it has allowed me find beauty, joy and inspiration in the most unexpected of places, and even during the most difficult of times.  I think it can be a similarly powerful tool for anyone, and as Katie Thurmes described, photos are a “return ticket to a moment otherwise gone.”

What do I need?

A camera: you don’t need a DSLR (which are brilliant but expensive) because film cameras and phones do exactly the same ‘trick’. If you did want to buy a DSLR camera, Ted’s Cameras is great; if you want to buy a film camera I would recommend looking on eBay as it is much more affordable. Carla Coulson is one of my favourite photographers, and if you sign up to her newsletter (through her website) she frequently sends a variety of tips and sources of inspiration for newcomers to the photography world.

How do I get involved?

Photography is something that can be enjoyed anywhere, at anytime, with anyone. You can very easily start alone, though it can be wonderful to go on photo adventures with friends. The ANU Photography Club is a good way to meet other aspiring photographers, if you prefer doing things with a group.

Who could inspire me?

Carla Coulson is one of my favourite photographers; after a bad week in Sydney 15 years ago she simply decided to leave her “wrong” life and its limiting expectations behind, jump on a plane to Italy and study photography. This choice has filled her life with awe-instilling adventure and passion ever since.

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Candle-Making 101

By Alex Costello

What is it?

Candle-making has always been special to me because it’s the first hobby that I taught myself. One summer, with little to do, a newfound sense of empowerment and my existing love of burning candles, I decided to try my hand at making them myself. Soon my bedroom became filled with an eclectic mix of scents (not all of them complementary) and an accompanying air of achievement. I suppose it’s a constant reminder, without sounding too corny, that even during the darkest times you can always find a light to guide the way – even if you have to mould that light for yourself.

What do I need?

I buy all of my supplies from candle supply shops online! They sell amazing starter kits for someone just beginning, as well as individual supplies for once you’re ready to branch out on your own. For beginners, the most important tools are candle wax, candlewicks, a scent of your choosing, a pot of boiling water, a thermometer, an extra pot (for melting the wax in) and pegs (for ensuring the wicks are centred). Eroma and Aussie Candle Making Supplies are particularly great places to look.

How do I get involved?

I think the best thing with candle making is that, aside from the equipment, it really is a craft that you can practice and perfect all on your own. There a number of amazing blogs and resources you can access through Google for tips and tricks – I’d especially recommend candletech.com and candlemaking.com.au.

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Podcasts 101

By Zoe Halstead

What is it?

A podcast is a radio show that you can listen to whenever you like, wherever you are! Some podcasts are simply live radio shows, which have been recorded and made available online, but many podcasts are pre-recorded and edited until they’re perfect – and that’s why I love this kind of podcast in particular. To me, podcasts are like normal radio with all the boring bits edited out – something akin to an audio documentary (although podcasts don’t have to be super serious or informative).

What do I need?

Not much! All you need is a phone or other electronic device that can download apps. There are A LOT of ways to listen to podcasts, the easiest being through the iPhone Podcasts app, which is the purple app that comes pre-downloaded, or Spotify, which allows you to search for podcasts the way you would usually search for a song. That being said, I prefer Overcast for iPhone because the Podcasts app tends to crash if you’re subscribed to a large number of podcasts (which I am). Stitcher is another great option if you don’t have Spotify or an iPhone.

How do I get started?

It all depends on what you want to listen to. If you’ve never heard a podcast before I’d recommend starting with S-Town, Serial or This American Life. If you’ve already tried those, or are looking for something specific, below is a list of categories to get you inspired and to give you a sense of just how many interests podcasts cover!

Liked This American Life? Try Israel Story
Liked Serial? Try Trace (Aus) or Bowraville (Aus)
Want to learn about economics? Try Planet Money or Freakonomics Radio
Don’t get memes and the internet? Try Reply All
Like investigative journalism? Try Reveal
Interested in media? Try On the Media or You’ve Gotta Start Somewhere (Aus)
Looking for inspirational women? Try Call Your Girlfriend or Chat 10 Looks 3 with Annabelle Crabbe and Leigh Sales (Aus)
Interested in international relations? Try FP’s The Editor’s Roundtable
Looking for a queer perspective? Try Not By Accident (Aus)
Wanna have a laugh? Try The Guilty Feminist or Make Out With Him
Want to learn about science? Try Science Vs
Interested in business? Try StartUp Podcast
Love Orange is the New Black? Try Earhustle
Trying to find your feet? Try Millennial
Keen for some non-fiction? Try Homecoming
Keen for some local student content? Check out my show Caught in the ACT (Aus) about Canberra youth affairs and Let’s Talk About It Podwalk* (Aus)
Interested in hip hop? Try Mogul

*Let’s Talk About It Podwalk is a geolocated podcast about mental health exclusive to ANU, which means you listen to specific sections in specific locations at ANU (think of it as Pokemon Go for podcasting). If you want to experience the Podwalk you’ll need to download the app of the same name.

(Aus) indicates the podcast is Australian.